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iOS 18: New Features, Siri AI, Apple Intelligence and More Expected at WWDC

 iOS 18: New Features, Siri AI, Apple Intelligence and More Expected at WWDC

The keynote for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference starts in hours, and the company is expected to unveil the next version of its iPhone software, iOS 18. 

The new version of iOS could bring the “biggest” software update in the iPhone’s history, according to a January edition of Mark Gurman’s Power On newsletter. In November, Gurman wrote that iOS 18 could bring “relatively groundbreaking” updates to the iPhone complete with “major new features and designs.”

Read more: WWDC 2024 Live Blog

Phone-makers are increasingly bringing generative AI features to their flagship smartphones, in a bid to take advantage of the hype cycle surrounding the emerging technology. Last fall, Google debuted its flagship Pixel 8 lineup with souped-up AI tricks. In January, Samsung launched the Galaxy S24 series complete with Galaxy AI. Apple is forecast to go in the same direction with the expected iPhone 16 and iOS 18. CEO Tim Cook said he expects Apple to have an edge in AI in a May earnings call, even though the company is widely seen as being behind in the AI race.

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“We’ve got some things that we are incredibly excited about that we’ll be talking about later this year,” Cook said on an earnings call in February in response to a question about generative AI.

Read more: Will Siri Become More Like ChatGPT? All Eyes on Apple’s WWDC

To be clear, Apple already has AI tools on its iPhones like its photo duplication detection feature for instance, but we’ve yet to see how generative AI will factor into the iPhone and iOS in a major way. With iOS 17, Apple included a slew of AI-powered features like the ability to clone your own voice on the iPhone (which is a form of gen AI) and an updated keyboard with better autocorrect. But the company stopped short of unveiling generative AI products along the lines of Google’s Gemini or OpenAI’s Chat GPT. Still, the rumor mill points to meaningful changes in iOS 18 and even an AI called “Apple Intelligence.” Here are the most credible ones.

Read more: Hidden AI Features Available on Your iPhone Right Now

iphone with weather and calendar iphone with weather and calendar

Apple/Screenshot by James Martin/CNET

Notes App revamp

Apart from Siri, one of the bigger changes could appear on Apple’s popular Notes App, according to reports by Apple Insider. The Notes app is expected to gain the ability to record and transcribe audio. It could also gain the ability to generate AI-powered summaries. This feature is rumored to change the Voice Memo apps across the iPhone as well as on iPads and MacBooks. It will supposedly work similarly to the company’s Live Voicemail feature, which was introduced last fall in iOS 17. 

Siri on iOS 17 Siri on iOS 17

Siri had a slight makeover in iOS 17, including two new features that will change how you interact with the voice assistant. iOS 18 could bring even more changes.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

Smarter Siri

Siri has been around since iOS 5 in 2011, but with iOS 18 Apple’s voice-activated assistant could become more useful. Apple’s digital helper will be able to manage all features within apps, enabling users to control singular functions on various apps with their voice, according to a Bloomberg report from late May. This feature is not expected to be released until 2025, the report says, when it will be part of a subsequent update to iOS 18.

In the nearer term, people can expect generative AI technology to “improve how both Siri and the Messages app can field questions and auto-complete sentences,” according to Gurman.

Read more: Why iOS 18 Could Be More Exciting Than the iPhone 16

Siri could also improve at performing multistep tasks. A September report from the Information said Apple plans to use large language models, a crucial part of generative AI, to make Siri smarter. An example detailed in that article explained how Siri can respond to simple voice commands for more complex tasks, such as turning a set of photos into a GIF and then sending them to one of your contacts. If that example is accurate, this represents a significant step forward in the capabilities of Siri. A more recent Bloomberg report seems to back this up, saying Siri would gain the ability to perform the multistep task of summarizing a recorded meeting and then texting it to a colleague in a single request. 

Calendar app integrates with Reminders app?

With iOS 18, the iPhone’s Calendar app will apparently include integration with the Reminders app. According to a May AppleInsider report, the updated version of Calendar should allow you to schedule and organize reminders directly from it, without needing to launch the Reminders app. The report says you’ll be able to view reminders within the Day, Week and Month calendar views.

Improved texting with Android

An illustration portraying the mix of blue and green bubbles on iPhone's iMessage service, with a sick-face emoji. An illustration portraying the mix of blue and green bubbles on iPhone's iMessage service, with a sick-face emoji.

Google’s launched a website dedicated to advocating for Apple to adopt the RCS text messaging standard, filled with links to tweet notes to the company.

Google/Screenshot by CNET

Apple has said it will bring support for RCS, the cross-platform messaging standard, to the iPhone. According to a November report by 9to5Mac, an Apple spokesperson said it’ll be coming to the iPhone “later next year” and will work alongside iMessage.

RCS support should improve the current messaging experience between iPhone and Android users by bringing iMessage-like features. Those upgrades include sending high-quality photos and videos to contacts, read receipt, typing indicators and, most importantly, end-to-end encryption, something SMS messaging lacks. In other words, if you have an Android phone and are texting someone with an iPhone, you’ll be able to text each other over RCS instead of SMS. However, it’s important to remember that iMessage will remain exclusive to the iPhone and other Apple devices. RCS will not bring iMessage to Android phones.

Read more: Google Should Push RCS Texting Further Than Just the iPhone

As mentioned earlier, details are currently sparse on Apple’s plans and we don’t yet know which iPhones will be compatible with iOS 18. We’ll be updating this article as and when we get more details, so make sure to check back. Until then, you can get up to speed with iOS 17. 

Watch this: Apple’s AI at WWDC Will Take a Different Twist

Control Center redesign

The iPhone’s Control Center could witness its biggest redesign in years. According to a MacRumors article citing sources, the new control center would allow for more customization with its drag-and-drop system. It would allow for the reorganization of more controls “directly on the interface,” the report says. 

Read more: Best iPhone of 2024

Apple Intelligence

A recent rumor points to how Apple’s generative AI features could operate. According to Gurman, Apple’s own LLM is set to anchor the generative AI features on the upcoming iPhone. The primary benefits of on-device AI include better privacy and faster response times, since the data doesn’t have to be transmitted to the cloud. But this approach may also make Apple’s AI tools less suited to certain scenarios that require a depth of knowledge, such as how some chatbots are less useful than others because they don’t have access to the open internet.

The iPhone-maker could compensate for these limitations by licensing technology from Google and other AI service providers. A late Bloomberg report on Friday says that these new AI features will be called Apple Intelligence.

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.

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